Tag Archives: exercise

A Better Amercia

PLAYLIST
In The Hall of the Mountain King – Umphrey’s McGee
Dark End of The Street – The Flying Burrito Brothers
Shelcha – Yael Naim
Computer Games – Yellow Magic Orchestra
Clectric Café (Neotericz) – 8-Bit Operators
WTF? – OK Go
Super Brothers (Love Device Mix) – Guitar Vader
Rubber Band – Trammps
Brothers On The Slide – Cymande
Fascination – David Bowie
Strawberryfire – The Apples In Stereo
Raid (Instrumental) – Madvillain
Trouble (Eve of Destruction) – Blackalicious
The Evil that Pens Do – Extended Famm
White Flag (feat. Bashy, Kano and the National Orchestra for Arabic Music) – Gorillaz
One Day – RJD2
Golden Rule – Erin Anova & the Maroons
Funk Em – Hieroglyphics & Del The Funky Homosapien
Past Zero Time – Dark Matter
Sessomatto – Armando Trovaioli
The Sophisticated Hippie – Horace Silver (Easy Mo Bee)
Always True to You in My Fashion – George Shearing & Peggy Lee
La Vieille Meurt – Alain Goraguer
Waiting For The Worms/Stop/The Trial/Outside The Wall – Pink Floyd

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-06-02: A Better Amercia by The Stranger onMixcloud

While the socialist-Maoist-Marxist-Trotskyite-Stalinist-communist-pinko-red-hippie John McCain badmouthed capitalism as ‘cruel’, and Bill Clinto went off-message on private equity, the old guard of Republicans (RINOs) futilely try to inject their reasonable wisdom into an insanely destructive party. Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) has lashed out at members of his party for their unyielding obstructionist opposition to new tax revenues.

“The only thing [SuperPAC money] can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we’re in extremity, you shouldn’t even be in Congress.”

In America, a disturbing number of people seem to think that the impoverished are degenerates who deserve their fate and none of our society’s help. At least it’s encouraging to know that they also don’t believe the rich should get their unearned, undeserved bailouts. But these crooks don’t have anything to worry about.

Our police forces seem more interested in hauling away credentialed members of the media in cuffs. “Your First Amendment rights can be terminated,” was the warning issued by a Chicago Police Department officer caught on video. Our hypocritical Commander-in-Cheeba seems more interested in busting up medical marijuana stoners, than any cartels.

via OccupyWallSt

And even during the 2008 Republican National Convention, at which FBI informants Brandon Darby and Andrew Darst set up David McKay, Bradley Crowder, and Matthew DePalma on charges of possessing Molotov cocktails in two separate incidents. It’s important to note that the only Molotov cocktails that figured in the RNC protests at any point were the ones used to entrap these young men: the FBI were not responding to a threat, but inventing one.

Over the past month, the FBI have shifted into high gear with this approach. Immediately before May Day, five young men were set up on terrorism charges in Cleveland after an FBI infiltrator apparently guided them into planning to bomb a bridge, in what would have been the only such bombing carried out by anarchists in living memory. During the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago,three young men were arrested and charged with terrorist conspiracy once again involving the only Molotov cocktails within hundreds of miles, set up by at least two FBI informants.

None of the targets of these entrapment cases seem to be longtime anarchist organizers. None of the crimes they’re being charged with are representative of the tactics that anarchists have actually used over the past decade. All of the cases rest on the efforts of FBI informants to manufacture conspiracies. All of the arrests have taken place immediately before mass mobilizations, enabling the authorities to frame a narrative justifying their crackdowns on protest as thwarting terrorism. And in all of these cases, the defendants have been described as anarchists in the legal paperwork filed against them, setting precedents for criminalizing anarchism.

Smashing bank windows, for example, may be illegal, but it is increasingly understood as a meaningful political statement; it would be difficult to build a convincing terrorism case around broken glass.

And now the Obama Justice Department is trying to do what Richard Nixon couldn’t: indict a media organization. . . . Charging Julian Assange with ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ would effectively be setting a precedent with a charge that more accurately could be characterized as ‘conspiracy to commit journalism‘”

Key Democratic Senators such as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein have publicly called for Assange’s prosecution for espionage (which in the case of both Assange and Manning may still carry a death sentence).

A group of journalists including Jeremy Scahill, Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, and Kevin Gosztola joined WikiLeaks and their counsel, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), insuing the federal government over the extreme secrecy in the trial of Bradley Manning. CCR asked the court “to grant the public and press access to the government’s motion papers, the court’s own orders, and transcripts of proceedings, none of which have been made public to date.” CCR argues that the trial has been “even less transparent than the controversial military commission proceedings ongoing at Guantánamo Bay.”

Considering that any vaguely named combatant or anyone standing near said “combatant” can be blown up by the president without due process, it does seem like something we should probably guard against, right? Now, similar to the ‘Do Not Call’ and ‘Do Not Track’ lists, a ‘Do Not Kill‘ petition has been started to counter the president’s ‘Kill List’. People are now (only half-mockingly) begging the government not to kill them.

via Salon:

Could Obama order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial? The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting thatwhile the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch. Despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war”

Attorney General Eric Holder then publicly claimed: “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” Both of those episodes sparked controversy, because of how radical of a claim it is.

John Brennan, the president’s counter-terrorism adviser, said in a recent speech that not a single non-combatant had been killed in a year of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And today’s Times article quoted a senior administration official who said that civilian deaths were in the “single digits.”
But it turns out that even this hey-it’s-better-than-carpet-bombing justification is rather flimsy. The Times article says “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties …It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” This was the exact language used by George Zimmerman in his 911 call about Travyon Martin (“it looks like he’s up to no good”), classifying all males in the vicinity of suspected Terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — including teenagers — as “militants” and “combatants,” and deeming them fair game to be killed solely by virtue of their physical location, gender and age.

And of course, President Obama is creating a great recruiting tool for anti-American fundamentalist forces.

“These attacks are making people say, ‘We believe now that al-Qaeda is on the right side,’ ” said businessman Salim al-Barakani, adding that his two brothers — one a teacher, the other a cellphone repairman — were killed in a U.S. strike in March.

Who would have guessed that continually dropping bombs on a country using remote-controlled sky robots and killing their civilians would breed hatred and a desire to attack back? Not only do these constant Obama attacks extinguish the lives of innocent people, but they also exacerbate the very threat they are ostensibly designed to address.

Of course, if the president continues to utilize authoritarian methods of torture, profiling, surveillance, illegal wiretapping, terroristic war tactics,and  robotic death-from-the-sky, surely the conservatives will call him out on this big government tyranny! What’s that? They’re calling him a socialist, leftist, a Maoist, and a Muslim? And the left supports his Big Brother extremism as well? As the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer asked: “Dems who think executive process is due process: Where were they when Bush‬ needed help with warrantless wiretapping?” or his indefinite detention scheme? Dianne Feinstein is more worried about stopping leaks and punishing whistleblowers than investigating the war crimes in the first place?

And WIRED gives us even more right-wing Nixonian extremism coming from the Obama White House:

The Obama administration is set to argue to a federal appeals court Friday that the government may breach, with impunity, domestic spying laws adopted in the wake of President Richard M. Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

The case tests whether Americans may seek recourse or monetary damages when a sitting U.S. president bypasses Congress’s ban on warrantless spying on Americans — in this instance when President George W. Bush authorized his secret, warrantless domestic spying program in the aftermath of the September 2001 terror attacks. A federal judge found in 2010 that two American lawyers’ telephone conversations with their clients in Saudi Arabia in 2004 were siphoned to the National Security Agency without warrants. The allegations were initially based on a classified document the government accidentally mailed to the former al-Haramain Islamic Foundation lawyers.

The document was later declared a state secret, removed from the long-running lawsuit and has never been made public. With that document ruled out as evidence, the lawyers instead cited a bevy of circumstantial evidence that a judge found showed the government illegally wiretapped the lawyers as they spoke on U.S. soil to Saudi Arabia.

Against the government’s objections, San Francisco U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker awarded the two lawyers — Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor — $20,400 each in damages and their legal counsel $2.5 million in costs. It marked the first time anyone had prevailed in a lawsuit challenging Bush’s so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program.

The domestic spying program was first disclosed by The New York Times in December 2005, and the government subsequently admitted that the the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on Americans’ telephone calls without warrants if the government believed the person on the other line was overseas and associated with terrorism. Further news investigations found that the government had secretly enlisted the help of major U.S. telecoms, including AT&T, to spy on Americans’ phone and internet communications without getting warrants as required by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Parts of the surveillance program were so egregious that the upper echelon of the Justice Department, including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, threatened to resign en masse if it wasn’t changed.

Congress, with the vote of President Barack Obama — who was an Illinois senator at the time — subsequently legalized much of the warrantless spying in the summer of 2008. The legislation also provided the nation’s telecommunication companies immunity from lawsuits accusing them of being complicit with the government’s warrantless wiretapping.

The government, however, claims said it cannot be held liable under the spying law, and that Congress has not waived sovereign immunity — meaning the government has not consented to being sued for breaching its own laws.

And via EFF:

In a disappointing ruling for government transparency advocates, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held the government could keep secret “cables describing waterboarding; a photograph of a detainee, Abu Zubaydah, taken around the time that he was subjected to the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’; and a short phrase that appears in several Justice Department memos referring to a ‘source of authority.’” This suit came on the heels of revelations that tapes allegedly showing waterboarding were destroyed by a CIA officer. The court accepted the government’s argument that waterboarding was an “intelligence method” and therefore exempt from disclose. The Obama administration argued in favor of this interpretation despite previously banning waterboarding as torture. As the ACLU’s Alexander Abdo wrote, the ruling means “the CIA can effectively decide for itself what Americans are allowed to learn about the torture committed in their name.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites when looking for “signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.”

The list was posted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center who filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, before suing to obtain the release of the documents. The documents were part of the department’s 2011 ’Analyst’s Desktop Binder‘ used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities’.

I present them all here in the hopes of generating more blog traffic and wasting expensive government resources. It is especially entertaining to know that one can get on Intelligence Agency radar with sentences such as “Pirates plot smart power pork cloud exposure, help aid meth lab explosion body scanner wave!”

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

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a Thin Veneer of Cheese

or: “Going on a Diet can Go to Hell”

Portion control is very difficult in first-world capitalist consumer-pleasure-dominated society. We can blame the corporations for shoving that delicious pie down our throat to keep us sated as they rob us blind. We can blame the post-WWII boomers who lived to revel in the excesses of sugary, delicious pie. We could even blame the pie for being delicious. In the end, it doesn’t matter. We live in the here and now with 300% of our daily caloric intake, and eating out at trans-fatty dollar-sign fast-foodatoriums.

There are several possible solutions, so let’s address them in no particular order, shall we?

1. Die.

You could die of heart disease (the number one killer according to the CDC), diabetes, or other complications arising from unhealthy American obesity. You’ve heard a lot of these facts and figures spouted again and again, and they don’t seem to affect your thinking too much, so here they are again. Dying is perhaps the easiest solution, though dying of these agents may not be as rewarding or exhilerating as, say, jumping off of the Queen Mary. If this is not our fate, then read on.

2. Attempt to lose weight.

Join a gym, prescribe exercises with calorie burning goals, drink nothing but juices, eat nothing but juices, cut out fiber, cut out sugars, cut out carbohydrates, cut out lipids, cut out proteins… and perhaps lose a few pounds. And though calorie counting is still the gold standard of scientific weight loss, there are other contextual considerations.

The problem is not really physical, but psychological. Statistics show that the simple act of making New Year’s resolutions, for example, almost guarantees that they will fail.

I once had a job transcribing for a nonprofit group whose goal had been to change the ‘built environment’ with a mind to ‘active living’ and ‘reducing obesity’ in urban populations. While this was perhaps a fine step in shifting the societal responsibility, it does little to change the manic bipolar attitudes towards weight: glamorize the anorexic fashion models, advertise the fattiest hamburgers, hype the latest diet craze, get the kids to watch TV after school instead of playing outside, censure McDonald’s menus and restrict their private enterprise, blame and marginalize the fat for being fat, raise the monthly rates at the gyms. The irony, of course, was not lost on me that I logged twenty hours of these nonsensical interviews whilst sitting my fat ass in my little-wheelied desk chair.

People often ‘hit plateaus’ in their weight loss plans. Or they lose a lot at first and don’t know why they can’t continue at that rate. Some people may never escape their body type, but still wish they were Victoria’s Secret model thin (*sigh*). More on this later.

“The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over, and then expecting different results.”

The most successful results come when you do not ‘go’ on a diet, but instead change your habits and your very cognition. As soon as you tire of those calorie counting, rice and celery juicing, overworking exercise regimens, you WILL put that weight back on, because you were looking at the light at the end of the tunnel the entire time. And that light was not just a single delicious slice of pie, but a return to the lifestyle that brought you such devastating misery in the first place. Which brings me to the third potentiality:

3. Alter your habits

There are plenty of things you can do to simply make better choices. As opposed to all those ‘diet fad’ books, I have found that the caloric swaps in David Zinczenko, Matt Goulding (authoritatively titled) Eat This Not That to be frighteningly enlightening and weight-lightening to boot. The restaurant guide in particular reveals what cultural change has done over the generations to slowly let us accept our meaty fate. You would be surprised how easily you can save a hundred calories or two from your diet by eating one specific greasy fast-food dollar-menu breakfast sandwich as opposed to another. It involves calorie awareness, but not necesarilly calorie counting, which I contend is inconvenient, and as such will probably not be a fail-safe sticking method for everyone.

Some foods even trick your brain and stomach into eating fewer calories.

And don’t be hydrophobic, drink water as much as possible! It’s better than any health shake, ‘detox cleanse’ bullshit, soda, coffee, beer, corn syrup juice, or sugar drink you can get. And doctors agree that there is no such thing as water weight (as much as getting two doctors to agree to anything is possible).

Here’s something you may not have put together (I know it came as a late revelation for me, and boy, did I feel stupid). Are you fat and broke? Well, there’s your problem right there. Of course, cutting down on portions is easier said than done. But preventing yourself from losing money is the greatest motivator, combined with losing weight and saving the planet, it may just be the winning combination you need.

There are numerous apps (most of them free) to keep your health on your mind.

An easy way to save money at that overpriced gym is to find a community college that offers phys. ed. classes for college credit. It’s possible to enroll for just that one class, and the monthly breakdown may end up being a fraction what one of those chains (and even the Y) charge. It may also be as simple as taking the stairs at work more often, or, if you take the elevator, doing your squats while you wait both on and off. And simplicity in exercise is often key.

There are websites entirely dedicated to saving you money on outings, activities, and group meet-ups. These are fun, and at least some of them are in line with your interests, but viewing them with an eye to being more active may give you that extra gumption to actually get out and do them. They’re cheap or cheap-as-free, so that chain gym won’t be getting any contractually obligated sum of your money, and they integrate fun, some skill you’ve been meaning to learn, and thus burn calories without you having to think about what a chore this whole calorie-burning thing might be.

These kinds of lateral moves will not only save you some money, but in doing so create a positive mental feedback loop that inspires and encourages you further.

And lest we forget, a rigorous and adventurous sex life is perhaps the best exercise regiment available.

4. Alter your philosophical outlook

How many fuckers do you know who say they are ‘so fat’ when they are ‘so not’? How do you feel when you haven’t quite made that health goal? Additionally, how will you know when enough is enough, without appearing to have some body dimorphism, harmful self-esteem issues, or gypsy curse? And isn’t the worst part about this whole weight loss thing when you’ve put your effort and time in, then fall into a few evenings of lounging instead of exercise (or perhaps as some reward), but then immediately feel guilt?

Don’t feel guilt, this is counterproductive. Likewise, don’t tell yourself that you’ve ‘earned’ this. You are still viewing it all as some external component of life that you engage in, what those alien fitness people allow you to temporarily engage in.

When you have a more platonic relationship with the universe (something I advocate anyway), you don’t care what society tells you about your body image or unhealthy habits. This doesn’t mean you lose all attachment to personal responsibility, just that you can gauge what is both productive physical time, and what is productive relaxation time. Wastefulness is your attachment to complaining, to worry, to stress, and to the labels that prevent you from fluidly being both the fitness-buff-and-couch-potato-in-one. It makes you a diverse person, and who doesn’t want to be that?

If you earnestly stop trying to make specific weight goals, while at the same time making good decisions on a regular basis, you will ingrain it into your being that health is a major motivator along with all the other rewarding and pleasurable activities in your life, you will escape the unfair expectations of a bullshit society and your own deceptive mind, and discover that vagueness can be liberating.

‘Laziness’ has gotten an unfair reputation, as our modern industrial world allows us more leisure than ever before, and people judge whether you spend it as an armchair sophist or benchpress hypertrophist. And let’s not forget the importance of sleep to your health! You most certainly burn calories while you slumber, and at the very least, any cheesecake you consume in a dream isn’t going to your hips.

A recent study suggests that people who are obese (barring other unhealthy factors) may live just as long as their skinny counterparts, and certainly longer than the stressed lives of those who continually attempt to lose weight and fail. It is important to remember that the BMI method is somewhat flawed, that only certain forms of obesity put you at high risk (such as belly fat), and that everything, including not just weight gain but weight loss, should be taken in moderation.

A new advocacy group and online community, Healthy at any Size, is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. Their website “supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:

  • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
  • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
  • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.”

And let’s face it, though it sounds like something your mother would say, it IS true; do you really want to date/hang out with/sleep with/gain the approval of people who judge you for your body type, anyway?

In the end (your fat rear end), the most important thing is deciding what is right for you. Spend some time thinking about it, and don’t try to give up cheese if you love cheese so VERY, VERY FUCKING MUCH. Moderation by mediation, by meditation, make bargains with yourself as to what your needs, wants, and not-so-needs-or-wants are. Make lists of each. You’d be surprised how much you would happily give up and not notice.